Sylas Wright

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November 30, 2012
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Alpine ski racing | Lindsey Vonn, Stacey Cook 1-2 in Lake Louise downhill

Safe to say, Stacey Cook was due.

Despite coming off a breakout 2011-12 season in which she finished 10th in the World Cup downhill standings, the Truckee native had never landed on the podium in her 10 years on the U.S. Alpine Ski team.

She put an end to that streak on Friday.

Cook scored her first career podium with a second-place finish to American teammate Lindsey Vonn in a foggy Audi FIS Alpine World Cup downhill in Lake Louise, Alberta.

"I was just really determined. I've been so close to the podium for so long. It's been kind of a monkey on my back," Cook said Friday night in a telephone interview.

Cook's previous best finish was fourth in the 2006 Lake Louise downhill.

On Friday she was 1.73 seconds off Vonn's winning time of 1:52.61, in 1:54.34, while German Maria Hoefl-Riesch and Liechtenstein's Tina Weirather tied for third just one-hundredth of a second behind Cook in the opening downhill of the season.

"I feel like a weight was lifted. That's something I've been going for for a long really long time," Cook said. "I knew I could compete with those girls. I'm just going to try to keep things the same and stay very level-headed. That seems to work for me."

The race was plagued by weather as fog drifted in and out, causing several holds. But Cook said she was fortunate to run during a window of decent weather.

"It was foggy for just about everyone, but some got it worse than others. The middle group definitely had a slower course," she said.

Aside from Cook, fellow Tahoe product Julia Mancuso of Squaw Valley finished eighth in 1:54.55 in what was a tightly packed top 10. Laurenne Ross was 11th, giving the defending-champion U.S. women four in the top 15.

The 1-2 finish by Vonn and Cook marked the first for the U.S. women since Vonn (then Kildow) and Mancuso swept the top two spots on Dec. 20, 2006, in Val d'Isere, France.

For Vonn, who reached 83 mph on the men's Olympic track, the win was the 54th of her career, and fifth straight in Lake Louise. Yet she gave credit to her teammate after the race.

"I'm so proud of Stacey. She's had the ability to be a podium skier for so long. She really deserved to be there today," Vonn said.

Cook said she appreciates her teammate's encouragement.

"It's really nice and awesome to have that support," Cook said. "We've been friends for so long. She's seen the battles that I've gone through and I've seen her battles. She's been so supportive of my journey, and it means a lot. And it's everyone on the team. I felt a lot of love from them today. It's what a team should be."

Cook's podium finish was even sweeter in the company of her parents, who made a rare trip from the Sierra Valley near Loyalton to watch her perform. Cook said they only attend one race every two or three years.

"So they picked a good one," she said.

The women race another downhill on Saturday.

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Tahoe Daily Tribune Updated Nov 30, 2012 09:12PM Published Nov 30, 2012 09:11PM Copyright 2012 Tahoe Daily Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.